FCC Blocks Regulations to Protect Consumer Internet Privacy

Yesterday was supposed to be the day the FCC’s landmark Broadband Privacy Rules to protect consumer privacy were put into place. But as you may have heard, these rules were blocked from taking effect by the new chairman of the FCC. The rules are on hold until another vote can occur, within the broader realm of reconsidering privacy rules in general.

Regulation Overview

In November the FCC passed new regulations, set to take effect March 2, which restrict the amount of information broadband providers and ISPs (for example, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T) can collect on their users. The rules mandate consumers opt-in in order for personal data to be collected about them online (browsing information, location data, other personal details), aiming to increase consumer privacy and control over information. Under the current rules, data collection can occur without explicit consumer permission – meaning it often occurs without consumer knowledge. Details collected online are often revealing, and used for marketing or advertising purposes.

Regulations Blocked

The FCC this week blocked these new protections from taking effect, however, and will instead revaluate them alongside other privacy-related protections. This is likely a precursor to the rules being significantly altered or eliminated entirely, in a move that many are calling an “attack on Internet privacy.” The reason for blocking the rules cited by FCC chairman Ajit Pai is that the rules “created an uneven playing field.” He stated: “All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another.” This move follows a petition presented to the FCC last month by the telecom industry, whom were not proponents of the rules. The blocking of privacy protections is viewed by some as another attack against net neutrality, which the FCC has been going after since Pai took office last month.

Golden Frog’s View

Although it remains to be seen what will happen to these rules, we are not pleased with the direction this is taking. As a company that stands for strong privacy and security for all Intenret users, we were encouraged by the FCC’s new privacy rules and are highly concerned that these measures are not going into effect as planned. Consumers have a right to privacy and control over their personal information, as well as access to a free and open Internet experience. These are principles we’ve always stood by, and will continue to fight to support regardless of what changes are made by the FCC next.

We encourage anyone who is concerned about their privacy to get involved – you can use the EFF’s tool to contact your representative and ask them not to undermine your online privacy rights and uphold the FCC protections. Take Action Now

Sources: CS Monitor, Engadget